You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2008.


Being Witnessed

When we allow ourselves to be witnessed by another, we cannot help but be transformed by the experience. Whether we are sharing a personal experience, standing in front of friends to celebrate a special occasion, or expressing our unbridled joy or sorrow in front of a loved one, we are allowing ourselves to be seen and experienced in a very intimate way. Not only are we baring ourselves to someone else, but we are allowing that person to hold a very specific kind of space with us so this powerful act can take place. To be witnessed is to let ourselves be seen as we truly are in that moment.

Our friends and loved ones can easily be witnesses for us, if only we are brave enough to let them. Your next birthday may be the perfect occasion to experience this sacred act: Invite your friends and loved ones to your special day. During the celebration, stand in front of them and thank them for being there for you. Feel their gratitude, attention, warmth, and support, while noticing the sense of safety you feel as they surround you. If you feel inspired, share your innermost thoughts about the day and your life. You may be surprised at the feelings of peace and validation that arise within you, when you feel safe enough to go deep into your soul and share yourself with those you trust.

Anyone who has ever seen love, admiration, acceptance, or appreciation reflected in a friend or loved one’s eyes knows how transformative that experience can be. When you bare yourself to another, you are giving them the gift of you and showing them that they also matter. In letting yourself be witnessed, you are letting others into your intimate space, stepping in the sacred container they have created for you, and creating a cauldron of positive affirmation, support, love, and goodwill that will stay with you forever.

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Nothing Is Insurmountable

When our next best course of action seems unclear, any dilemmas we face can appear insurmountable. Yet there is nothing we cannot overcome with time, persistence, focused thought, help, and faith. Whatever the situation or problem, there is always a solution. And if you remember to look within, even as you search around you for the “right” course of action, you will be able to center yourself, clear your mind, and see that nothing has to be impossible.

The first step in overcoming any obstacle is to believe that it can be overcome. Doing so will give you the strength and courage to move through any crisis. The second step is to make a resolution that you can prevail over any chaos. Enlist your support network of family and friends if necessary. The more minds there are to consider a problem, the more solutions can be found. Don’t discount ideas just because they seem impractical or “unrealistic,” and don’t keep searching for the “best” alternative. Often there is no “best” choice, there is only a choice to make so we can begin moving beyond whatever is obstructing our path. At the very least, making a choice, even if isn’t the ideal one, can give you a sense of peace before you have to figure out what your next course of action will be.

If you feel overwhelmed by the scope of your troubles, you may want to think of other people who have turned adversity into triumph. We often gain a fresh perspective when we remember others who have overcome larger obstacles. It can be inspiring to hear of their victories, helping us remember that there is always light at the end of every tunnel. It is during our darkest hours that we sometimes need to remind ourselves that we don’t have to feel helpless. You have within and around you the resources to find a solution to any problem. And remember that if a solution or choice you make doesn’t work, you are always free to try another. Believe that you can get through anything, and you will always prevail.

 

Work hard
Hard work is the best investment a man can make.

Study hard
Knowledge enables a man to work more intelligently and effectively.

Have initiative
Ruts often deepen into graves.

Love your work
Then you will find pleasure in mastering it.

Be exact
Slipshod methods bring slipshod results.

Have the spirit of conquest
Thus you can successfully battle and overcome difficulties.

Cultivate personality
Personality is to a man what perfume is to a flower.

Help and share with others
The real test of business greatness lies in giving opportunities to others.

Be democratic
Unless you feel right toward your fellow men, you can never be a successful leader of men.

In all things do your best

The man who has done his best has done everything.
The man who has done less than his best has done nothing.

Charles Schwab
Carnegie Steel Company – 1897

Another enjoyable week.

Monday I reunited with a former student with whom I lost contact 20 years ago. His family was wonderful to me during my Muncie days, and Nathan was always one of my favorite former students. In short, his mother has been the Lutheran pastor in my hometown (which I did not know), and Nathan has lived around the corner from me for eight years.

Friday night, Nathan joined me for the Fairmont vs. Beavercreek game, and we had a great time catching up. We actually started with the wonderful Fairmont Firebird tradition of STEP OFF. The band lines up in front of the school’s performing arts department, marching around the school, and through the neighborhood to the stadium. Once at the stadium they march under the stadium, pounding the drums and chanting. It is a thrill to watch. The game was actually kind of fun – but I was also seated behind Jill & John Chabut. The bands were wonderful.

After the game, Nathan joined Jose and me as we drove Jose’s friend, Matt, back to his house to pack some clothes for over night. The band was to leave at 6:30am for contest in Massillon, Ohio which is approximately three hours from Dayton, and I told Matt he was welcome to stay so his parents would not have to get up so early. Once back home, Nathan and I sat up until 5:30am chatting – and I think there was some dozing.

Jose’s friend, Matt

Saturday I taught two Beavercreek students until 12:30am, enjoyed a brief visit from Christi and Carrie Salchak, and then ran some errands. I took a nap, and then showered and dressed. Nathan came over and we watched the delightful Disney movie, ENCHANTED.

Jose and Matt burst through the door at 3:30am, tired, but thrilled from the long adventure. The band made it into the night finals and placed 9th.

Sunday, I chatted with Mother, learning that my younger sister was to be married this evening. Not surprising, but events leading up to this evening’s nuptials have me concerned for my nephews – their future, as well as their safety. Life and choices… but not my problem, nor will I allow it to concern me.

Jose and I went to a Mexican lunch after Matt left with his mother, and then we grabbed a few items from Meijers. I worked on the musical while Jose watched movies before he headed to work. Jeff Carter and I chatted on the telephone, and I resumed work on The Wright Brothers project.

One of my favorite songs from the movie, SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR…

Hello, I don’t even know your name, but I’m hopin’ all the same
This is more than just a simple hello.
Hello, do I smile and look away? No, I think I’ll smile and stay
To see where this might go.

‘Cause the last time I felt like this, I was falling in love,
Falling and feeling, I’d never fall in love again.
Yes, the last time I felt like this, was long before I knew
What I’m feeling now with you.

Hello, I can’t wait till we’re alone, somewhere quiet on our own
So that we can fall the rest of the way.
I know that before the night is thru, I’ll be talking love to you,
Meaning every word I say.

‘Cause the last time I felt like this I was falling in love,
Falling and feeling, I’d never fall in love again.
Yes, the last time I felt like this, was long before I knew
What I’m feeling now with you.

Oh, the last time I felt like this I was falling in love,
Falling and feeling, I’d never fall in love again.
Yes, the last time I felt like this, was long before I knew
What I’m feeling now with you.

Words by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Music by Marvin Hamlisch

Living A Life Of Grace

Grace exists inside of all of us and around us. It is our inner beauty that radiates outward, touching everyone we meet. It is that unseen hand that comes from the divine, raising us up when we most need it. To be able to live in a state of grace is not based on worthiness, nor is it earned through good deeds, ritual, or sacrifice. Rather it is an unearned favor, freely bestowed and available to all, that is inherent to our birthright. All we must do is open our eyes to its presence and we will find and experience grace everywhere.

Grace is in the rain bringing relief to drought-ridden farms, and the unexpected lead for the perfect job opportunity that comes from a stranger. Grace is what happens to someone when they miraculously escape injury; it is even the simple events that happen to us that we call “good luck,” like when we don’t get a parking ticket after are meter has expired. Grace resides in the love between two people, the gift or check that comes unexpectedly in the mail, the cozy comforts that make up a home, and in the acts of forgiveness we bestow upon others. It is grace that moves us to go out of our way to help a stranger. In music, a grace note is the pause between notes that is so important to the pacing of a song. Grace is the state we are in when we are doing nothing but just being who we are.

When we accept that we always exist in a state of grace, we are able to live our lives more graciously. Knowing we are graced gives us hope, makes us more generous, and allows us to trust that we are taken care of even when we are going through difficult times. Grace is our benevolence of heart, and our generosity of spirit. Grace is unconditional love and the beauty that is our humanity. When we know that we are blessed with grace, we can’t help but want to live our lives in harmony.

Doing Things Slowly

Life can often feel like it’s zipping by in fast forward. We feel obliged to accelerate our own speed along with it, until our productivity turns into frenzied accomplishment. We find ourselves cramming as much activity as possible into the shortest periods of time. We disregard our natural rhythms because it seems we have to just to keep up. In truth, rushing never gets you anywhere but on to the next activity or goal.

Slowing down allows you to not only savor your experiences, but also it allows you to fully focus your attention and energy on the task at hand. Moving at a slower place lets you get things done more efficiently, while rushing diminishes the quality of your work and your relationships. Slowing down also lets you be more mindful, deliberate, and fully present. When we slow down, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves to our natural rhythms. We let go of the “fast forward” stress, and allow our bodies to remain centered and grounded. Slowing down is inherent to fully savoring anything in life. Rushing to take a bath can feel like an uncomfortable dunk in hot water, while taking a slow hot bath can be luxuriant and relaxing. A student cramming for a test will often feel tired and unsure, whereas someone who really absorbs the information will be more confident and relaxed. Cooking, eating, reading, and writing can become pleasurable when done slowly. ! Slowing down lets you become more absorbed in whatever it is you are doing. The food you eat tastes better, and the stories you read become more alive.

Slowing down allows you to disconnect from the frenzied pace buzzing around you so you can begin moving at your own pace. The moments we choose to live in fast forward motion then become a conscious choice rather than an involuntary action. Learning to slow down in our fast-moving world can take practice, but if you slow down long enough to try it, you may surprise yourself with how natural and organic living at this pace can be.


Denying Your Feelings

Dealing with powerful emotions can be challenging, especially when we are going through chaotic, sad, or cruel experiences in our lives. Often, it can seem like we have only two options for dealing with our feelings so they don’t become too overwhelming. We may let our feelings out in an immediate and visceral way, or we may bottle them up by suppressing our emotions inside our bodies. Most people make the second choice, repressing their feelings in an attempt to deny them. The truth is that there are many positive ways to deal with emotions, and experiencing your negative feelings doesn’t have to constitute a negative experience. Denying your feelings is not only unhealthy for the mind and the body, but it may also rob you of valuable information you could be learning about yourself and your life. Suppressing your emotions can even impede your short-term memory. Acknowledging your feelings can help you better understand them and help you recover naturally from change, stres! s, and grief.

If you find that facing your feelings head on is proving too difficult during times of emotional distress, you may want to explore alternative ways of expressing them. Otherwise, the emotions you deny could morph into unconscious anger or self-hatred. Expressing your thoughts to friends or family can be helpful. If you don’t feel ready to share them, try giving them words by writing down what you are feeling. Give whatever you are feeling simple words like “livid” or “angry” or “excited” You can also funnel your feelings into a creative outlet, physical exercise, or chores. Even just accepting and speaking your feelings out loud to yourself can be a healing release. In releasing intense emotions, it is most beneficial to acknowledge the feelings, allow yourself to feel them, and let the feelings go. Those who are willing to experience and release their feelings without judgment also find that their lives become less stressful. Breathing deeply, going for a long walk, or doi! ng a constructive task can help you respond to your feelings in a healthy way.

While burying negative or uncomfortable feelings can numb the pain, it also may inevitably dull your ability to experience your more positive and pleasurable feelings. You may find yourself afraid to open up in the future for fear of getting hurt. The feelings we deny aren’t limited to anger and sadness. Suppressing our happiness or excitement can be just as unhealthy. In learning how to express your intense emotions in a healthy way, you are giving yourself the freedom to fully experience the more joyful emotions that come with being alive.

Finding Another Vantage Point

The ocean can look very different, depending on whether you are standing at the shore, soaring above in a plane, or swimming beneath its waves. Likewise, a mountain can look very different relative to where you are standing. Each living thing sees the world from its unique vantage point. While from your window you may be seeing what looks like a huge shrub, a bird in its nest is getting an intimate view of that tree’s leafy interior. Meanwhile, a beetle sees only a massive and never-ending tree trunk. Yet all three of you are looking at the same tree.

Just as a shadow that is concealed from one point of view is easily seen from another, it is possible to miss a fantastic view. That is, unless you are willing to see what’s in front of you through different eyes. Seeing the world from another perspective, whether spatially or mentally, can introduce you to all sorts of hidden treasures. The root of the discovery process often lies in finding another way of looking at the world. The common human reaction to insects is one example. Spinning its web in a dark corner, a spider may seem drab, frightening, and mysterious. But seen up close weaving silver snowflakes between the branches of a tree, they can look like colored jewels.

Sometimes, there are experiences in life that from your vantage point may seem confusing, alarming, or worrisome. Or there may be events that look insignificant from where you are standing right now. Try seeing them from another point of view. Bury your face in the grass and look at the world from a bug’s vantage point. Explore your home as if you were a small child. Take a ride in a small aircraft and experience the world from a bird’s eye view. Just as kneeling down sometimes helps you see more closely when you are looking for lost treasure, so can standing back help you appreciate the broader picture of what you are looking at. In doing so, you’ll experience very different worlds.


Planting The Seeds Of Generosity

The most difficult time to be generous is when we ourselves are feeling poor. While some of us have experienced actually being in the red financially, there are those of us who would feel broke even if we had a million dollars in the bank. Either way, as the old adage goes, it is always in giving that we receive. Meaning that when we are living in a state of lack, the very gesture we may least want to give is the very act that could help us create the abundance that we seek. One way to practice generosity is to give energy where it is needed. Giving money to a cause or person in need is one way to give energy. Giving attention, love, or a smile to another person are other acts of giving that we can offer. After all, there are people all over the world that are hungry for love.

Sometimes when we practice generosity, we practice it conditionally. We might be expecting to “receive back” from the person to whom we gave. We might even become angry or resentful if that person doesn’t reciprocate. However, trust in the natural flow of energy, and you will find yourself practicing generosity with no strings attached. This is the purest form of giving. Remember that what you send out will always come back you. Selflessly help a friend in need without expecting them to return the same favor in the same way, and know that you, too, will receive that support from the universe when you need it. Besides, while giving conditionally creates stress (because we are waiting with an invisible balance sheet to receive our due), giving unconditionally creates and generates abundance. We give freely, because we trust that there is always an unlimited supply.

Being aware of how much we are always supported by the universe is one of the keys to abundance and generosity. Consciously remember the times you’ve received support from expected and unexpected sources. Remember anyone who has helped you when you’ve needed it most, and bless all situations that come into your life for the lessons and gifts they bring you. Remember that all things given and received emanate from generosity. Giving is an act of gratitude. Plant the seeds of generosity through your acts of giving, and you will grow the fruits of abundance for yourself and those around you.

Living a Spiritual Life

Throughout the journey from birth to death, many people choose to question life, strive for improvement, seek out knowledge, and search for the divine. Simply put, this is the essence of spirituality. One’s spiritual practice can take on many forms, because embracing the spiritual is a very personal pursuit. While many people do relate their spirituality to a God or Goddess, this quest for the divine, or oneness with the universe, always springs from within. It doesn’t matter where you find your spiritual path. We are all fundamentally spiritual beings and the essence of that lies in knowing one’s true self and finding a peace that comes from within rather than the outside world. It is in remembering this that we awaken to our personal path.

The spiritual path springs forth from a daily routine that reaffirms our personal connection with a purpose or a way of life. Practicing compassion, gratitude, appreciation, forgiveness, generosity, meditation, and taking care of one’s wellbeing can all be a part of one’s spiritual life. If you are new to exploring your personal spirituality, remember that this is a process. You may want to spend a few moments each day giving yourself a spiritual gift. Try a new form of meditation, visit a sanctuary, or explore a specific deity.

Accepting the importance of spirituality can be a healthy decision, because a spiritual practice tends to include habits that promote healthy living. Take the time to carefully determine the action, thought, and ritual that most speaks to your soul. Remember that your most profound spiritual experiences may also come from the simple intricacies that make up your life. See the interconnectedness of all things. As you explore your “inner work,” you will be walking your spiritual path and feeling your oneness with the universe.


Imposing Your Will On Others

The right to make your own choices is a precious one. We grow when we have the freedom to decide our own paths and determine what makes us happy. Yet there are those who are inclined to try and control others. They may be driven by insecurity, envy, fear, or the need for power. These people are deeply critical of themselves in their own minds, and underlying that critical nature is unhappiness. Their need to feel sure-footed and secure is quenched by controlling those around them, whether they are friends, colleagues, or even pets. However, nearly everyone has found themselves imposing their will upon others at one time or another.

Trying to impose your will on others can be tempting for many reasons. You may feel that your way is the best way or that you have a keener insight into the direction their life should be taking. But, in imposing your will, you are indirectly saying, “I want to control you.” Even when you have the best of intentions, others may end up resenting you for your actions. It is always helpful to remember that it is possible to influence people and change their behavior through education or example without imposing your will on them.

If you’ve caught yourself being a bit bossy on a regular basis, make a note of it. Write down what the situation was and why you acted the way you did. You may have pushed a friend to try something new, because deep inside you wanted to try it yourself but were feeling hesitant. Or you may be unjustly interfering with work teammates, because you aren’t sure of their abilities. Next, make an effort to understand and accept their preferences and ways of doing things. It can feel natural to impose your will when you feel that you “know best.” But there is a freedom to trusting others to find their own methods and joys, even when they might differ from yours. Sometimes the best course of action is to step back and relinquish control. You may, in doing so, see everything from a different point of view.

People are always asking me to describe what I mean when I mention, “Daily Briefs.”

In the Haasienda, the Daily Brief is our communication system for each day. I am generally teaching when Jose arrives home from school, and this allows me to share information – chore (1 or 2 items), dinner, quote of the day, upcoming events, and my own thoughts. The headings are now in German so Jose can learn a little more for class.

 Here is what a DB looks like in the Haasienda….

 

 

Mittwoch, den 17. September

 

…Helfen Sie bitte Vati mit dem folgenden…

(ENGLISH: “Please help Dad with the following…”)

1.  Laundry

 

…Abendessen…

(ENGLISH: “Dinner…”)

Grab some fruit before you head to work.

 

…Anführungsstrich des Tages…

(ENGLISH: “Quote of the day…”)

    Just do it.” ~ Nike

… Gedanken vom Vati…

 

(ENGLISH: “Thoughts from Dad…”)

I found this and thought it was great… 9 Tips for Being a Successful Student…


… PAY ATTENTION & PARTICIPATING IN CLASS

… MAKE AN EFFORT TO KNOW THE TEACHER

… GET ENOUGH SLEEP

… EAT BREAKFAST EVERY DAY (Let’s try this for one week)

… HAVE GOOD NUTRITION HABITS ALL DAY & TAKE VITAMINS

… HAVE AN ORGANIZATION SYSTEM THAT WORKS

… HAVE A REGULAR TIME AND PLACE FOR HOMEWORK

… ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO SOMEONE AT HOME (we already do this)

…SET GOALS FOR ACHIEVEMENT

It is so strange to see school closings on television when I can look out into my backyard – there is green grass, sunshine, blooming flowers… but over half of Kettering is still without power. Only three students out of 18 these past few days have had power. It is amazing to hear what some families have been doing to cope with the lack of modern day conveniences to which we have been so accustomed.

Jose and I drove downtown to celebrate GOTCHA DAY at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants and though I had seen the destruction in our own neighborhood, I could not believe what I was seeing… it looked like a war zone, or a tornado’s path. Near the UD campus, on Brown Street, three huge trees were cradled by power lines. Since UD was powered up, classes were in session… but those power lines, straining like large bungee cords waiting to either break, or launch a tree over onto the John Patterson homestead.

My students this evening just looked exhausted. There were some neat stories of how the families had adjusted, but you could see the stress, and strain.

We shall survive… it is not winter, the weather is perfect so no air conditioning or heat is needed, yet there still lurks the danger of trees that continue to fall… and rain water, snow and ice are very near.

 

Despite the heaviness of knowing many of our dear friends and neighbors, literally several houses away, are without power, I am going to continue celebrating the day. It is a beautiful day here in Kettering, Ohio, and the schools are closed again. For lunch, I am taking Jose to eat downtown to celebrate GOTCHA DAY. Four years ago today, Jose, then 12 years old, arrived from Oregon to live with us.

Jose is an amazing young man with great potential for a fantastic future. I am really proud of all he has accomplished, and for maintaining such a gratfeful attitude about life. Unlike other children who endured birth family horrors and the foster care system, Jose is still positive and joyful on the inside.

Here are a few photographs, beginning with the day he arrived.

Ironically, in the first photo of the day Jose arrived, behind Jose and myself is a portrait of my own birth father who abandoned my family when I was about Jose’s age… I just noticed this today…

 

100 years after his death, aviator inspires exhibit

Charles E. Ramirez / The Detroit News

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — He was the first soldier to die in a powered-aircraft crash in world history. And Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of his death.

The name is familiar to most in Macomb County, home to the military installation that derives its name from the soldier: the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township.

To commemorate the milestone anniversary of the death of Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge, the resident historian at the base has put together a traveling program that examines the life and death of the aviator.

“It’s perfect for service clubs and libraries or other organizations looking for historical programs,” said Lt. Col. Louis Nigro, executive director of the Selfridge Military Air Museum.

Nigro will make his first public presentation of the program Sept. 23 at the Mount Clemens Public Library.

The fascination with flying for U.S. Army 1st Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge started when he was a cadet at West Point, Nigro said. Selfridge, a San Francisco native, was one of a few who flew giant box kites designed and built by Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, in 1907. He was also one of three military officers trained to pilot the Army Signal Corps’ first blimp.

Selfridge was later assigned to a team assembled to test the Wright Flyer — an aircraft built by Orville and Wilbur Wright, the brothers who made the world’s first controlled, powered airplane flight Dec. 17, 1903.

In 1908, after several days of watching the aircraft in action at Fort Meyer, Va., Selfridge convinced Orville Wright to take him on a flight as a passenger on Sept. 17. More than two thousand spectators gathered.

A propeller blade broke during the flight. The plane crashed, Wright was injured and Selfridge killed.

Selfridge was the first serviceman to die in a powered aircraft crash, said Randy Hotton, aviation historian and director of flight operations at the Yankee Air Museum in Ypsilanti. “Despite his death, it’s the start of the recognition that airplanes are going to play a major part in the military in the future,” Hotton said.

Several years after Selfridge’s death, when the Army acquired Joy Aviation Field in Harrison Township, it renamed the field after Selfridge.

The field has played a vital role in military aviation, said Hotton.

“Selfridge field later became a breeding ground for most of the generals who were the big guys in World War II,” he said.


Finding Another Vantage Point

The ocean can look very different, depending on whether you are standing at the shore, soaring above in a plane, or swimming beneath its waves. Likewise, a mountain can look very different relative to where you are standing. Each living thing sees the world from its unique vantage point. While from your window you may be seeing what looks like a huge shrub, a bird in its nest is getting an intimate view of that tree’s leafy interior. Meanwhile, a beetle sees only a massive and never-ending tree trunk. Yet all three of you are looking at the same tree.

Just as a shadow that is concealed from one point of view is easily seen from another, it is possible to miss a fantastic view. That is, unless you are willing to see what’s in front of you through different eyes. Seeing the world from another perspective, whether spatially or mentally, can introduce you to all sorts of hidden treasures. The root of the discovery process often lies in finding another way of looking at the world. The common human reaction to insects is one example. Spinning its web in a dark corner, a spider may seem drab, frightening, and mysterious. But seen up close weaving silver snowflakes between the branches of a tree, they can look like colored jewels.

Sometimes, there are experiences in life that from your vantage point may seem confusing, alarming, or worrisome. Or there may be events that look insignificant from where you are standing right now. Try seeing them from another point of view. How does the situation look now? Try burying your face in the grass and looking at the world from a bug’s vantage point. Explore your home as if you were a small child. Take a ride in a small aircraft and experience the world from a bird’s eye view. Just as kneeling down or standing on a chair can help you find a lost object, so can seeing a broader or the more focused picture help you find wisdom or hidden treasures. In doing so, you’ll experience a very different world.


The Importance of Sleep

When life gets busy, sleep is often the first activity that we sacrifice. Considered a luxury by many busy people, sleep is actually as vital to sustaining a balanced life as are breathing, eating, and drinking. Getting sufficient sleep can be a potent energizer, just as not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling drained and sluggish. While eight hours is the average amount of sleep most adults should generally aim for, the right amount of sleep varies for each person. Some people may thrive on just four hours, while others don’t feel well rested unless they’ve slept for ten hours. How much we sleep also varies, depending upon where we are in life. Young people often need more sleep, while older people may need less. But the benefits of sleep always stay the same. Regular and consistent periods of wakefulness and sleep are key ingredients to fostering a healthy body and a clear mind. It is during sleep that your body renews itself.

Often, the ability to forgo sleep is considered by some to be an asset. But while it may seem that the nighttime hours can be better used for more productive activities, sleep in itself is extremely productive. During sleep, your body and psyche are both regaining their strength for the coming day. You may have the unique opportunity to explore the hidden recesses of your personality while you are dreaming. Meanwhile, your long-term memories are reinforced. Many cultures engage in an afternoon siesta. Taking a nap is refreshing and can increase both productivity and creativity.

Many famous writers and artists have looked toward their dreams as a source of inspiration. Lewis Carroll is said to have conceived his idea for Alice in Wonderland while dreaming. The expression “sleeping on it” is more than just a saying. Answers to problems can come in your sleep and present themselves to your wide-awake self in the morning. The ancient Greeks valued sleep so significantly, they believed it was a gift from the gods. When you sleep well, you will awaken feeling alert, refreshed, and ready for life’s challenges. Getting enough sleep will ensure that you are centered, thoughtful, and aware throughout the day so you can live your full potential.

What a busy, and then exciting weekend…
 
FRIDAY
Jose was with the marching band for the game against Lebanon, and we won. He got home around 11:30pm. I ran some errands and worked on writing for a few hours.
 
SATURDAY
I kept busy with errands around the house, and some writing. Worried about my family in the Houston area but have since learned they are doing just fine.
 
Jose left for band practice at 12:30pm, and I ran some errands for groceries, and got sandwiches from Subway. Came home and finished some more chores, made 36 cupcakes, and packed up for the tailgate party back behind the house on the baseball diamond where the band rehearses. Had so much fun with the parents, and watched the band show. Ate lunch with the kids, and headed home.
 
Band contest was in Tipp City. I got to see four of my drum-major students on the field, and was proud of all my kids. Fairmont has a great show, and I thought they did better than where they placed. I took a number of photos but my night time photos for band just do not turn out.
 
I drove home, arriving about 30 minutes prior to the band buses and trailer.
SUNDAY
I thought I slept pretty good but kept waking up throughout the night. Finally at 8:00am, I finally gave up trying to wrestle time for more sleep. I got up and piddled around the house a bit. Worked at my desk for a while as Jose played the piano. Around 10:30am I mowed the yard and used the leaf blower, taking advantage of the semi- strong winds.
 
Jose and I ran to the mall after showering, and on the way, the wind advisory of which we had been warned, came true. We went to Game Stop so Jose could exchange a game, ate Chinese, and walked out to winds so strong we could barely make it back to the car. En route back to Kettering, we saw trees down and tons of branches and limbs.
 
At home, we walked into a house with cabinet doors open, items blown around, and pictures hanging crooked. The dark clouds began taunting us, but no solid rain…
 
And then the winds hit HARD AND FURIOUS. The power went out around 1:30pm.
 
The winds reportedly got up to 75mph. I walked next door to see the HUGE limbs that fell between the Moore-Parker and Stephenson houses. Fortunately, both families had moved their vehicles just moments before the limbs fell. The streets looked like a war zone.
 
Neighbors began reporting trees down on the next street over… wow! It was incredible.
 
I spent a lot of time talking to the Moore-Parker and Stephenson families as we watched nature lash out around us. At 4:45pm I got ready to drive Jose to work as I was afraid of limbs falling on him – and I heard a loud crack and thud. A tree in the easement between our fence and the high school broke in half – a HUGE tree. Fortunately it missed the fence, falling directly in the easement. Had it fallen the other way it would have crashed through our privacy fence, and maybe on to the deck. As we drove around the corner to work, one of the huge trees in front of the high school was broken at the base.
 
After dropping Jose off at One Lincoln Park, I drove on down Shroyer, over to Stroop, across Far Hills and back in that neighborhood… WOW! I stopped counting at 38 trees completely broken at the base, and hundreds more split in two… snow plows were pushing debris through the streets just to clear a path. It looked like a war zone or a tornado’s path.
 
I took a nap and by 6:00pm, the winds had calmed down.
 
I went out back and raked the deck and back yard, and then the front. The Stephensons were in their back yard using the twigs and branches for a fire.
 
The report is that over 200,000 customers are without power.
 
Kettering City Schools are closed for Monday.
 
What an eventful day… but, as always, it was so much fun to spend time with my neighbors who border my yard.
At 10:00pm….
Jose and I drove to Kroger so he could get a movie, and I a few groceries…. Kroger and all that area was black. We drove – cautiously down Stroop with trees still protruding onto the street and no lights anywhere. On Southern the hospital was lit up, but everything else dark.
 
At Wal-Mart on Dorothy Lane, there were the restaurants – packed! Wal-Mart was black and most of the area. Jose got  several  movies  from McDonalds, and the lines inside and in the drive-thru were endless. As I waited for Jose there was one family who pulled up in the business across the way, and there was a father and his teenage son who went into McD’s. The mother and the baby stayed in the car and we chatted. They had been without power since 1:00pm, and finally came out at 10:30pm to get some food.
 
I called the Lockharts and Jackson said they were still without power. I invited them to come to our house, and wish they were here. God knows there is plenty of sleeping space.
 
The fire crews are still running. They were busy putting out electrical fires and downed wires.
 
We drove through Kettering to the Kroger on the opposite end of town. There was a sign out front: No flashlights, no batteries, no ice. Bottled water was gone, as was gallons of water.
 
Some parts are also without water. Most of Wilmington Pike was black.
 
We have been asked to stay inside due to the downed lines and debris.
 
The big concern now is that the trees have been weakened and future winds, rain, snow and ice could still cause further problems.
 
200,000 homes are without power in the Dayton area. 628,000 homes in the Cincinnati area are without power.
 
The news has these hideous sites of trees crashing through roofs, roofs gone, awnings gone… one Shell Station overhead crashed to the ground. And I am sure there are more items.
 
It is sad.
 
And of course, Houston and other parts are dealing with flooding.


Mindful Walking

Many of us take the benefits of walking for granted. Each day we limit the steps we take by driving or sitting for long periods of time. But walking even a few blocks a day has unlimited benefits – not only for our health, but our spirit as well, for as we walk, we connect with the earth.

Even when walking on concrete, the earth is still beneath us, supporting us. Walking lets our body remember simpler times, when life was less complicated. This helps us slow down to the speed of our body and take the time to integrate the natural flow of life into our cellular tissue. Instead of running from place to place or thinking about how much more we can fit into our day, walking allows us to exist in the moment.

Each step we take can lead us to becoming more mindful of ourselves and our feelings. Walking slows us down enough not only to pay attention to where we are in our body, but also to our breath. Taking time to simply notice our breath while we walk, through the length of our inhales and exhales, and becoming attuned to the way in which we breathe is taking a step towards mindfulness. When we become more mindful, we gradually increase our awareness of the environment around us and start to recognize that the normal flow of our thoughts and feelings are not always related to where we are in the present moment. Gradually we realize that the connection we have with the earth and the ground beneath our feet is all that is. By walking and practicing breathing mindfully we gain a sense of calm and tranquility — the problems and troubles of the day slowly fade away because we are in the ‘now’.

The simplicity and ease of a walking practice allows us to create time, space and awareness of our surroundings and of the wonders that lie within. Taking a few moments to walk each day and become more aware of our breath will in turn open the door for the beauty of the world around us to filter in.


Putting Our Tools To Use

Every craftsperson has a toolbox full of tools and a number of techniques to help them bring inspiration into form. In the same way, throughout our lives, we have discovered our own life tools and techniques—the ways and means that have helped us create our lives up to this point. Sometimes we forget about the tools and skills we’ve acquired, and we wonder why we aren’t moving forward. At times like these, it might just be a matter of remembering what we already know, and rediscovering the tools we already have at our disposal.

In the process of becoming who we are and creating our lives, we have all gone through the experience of being inspired to do something and then finding the tools we needed to do it. If we look back, we may be able to remember that we used, for example, the tool of writing every day in order to clarify our intentions. We may also have used the tools of ritual, meditation, or visualization to make something happen. In addition, we may have been fueled by a new idea about how the universe works, which is what gave us the inspiration to use these tools.

In order for ideas to be powerful, they must be imbued with the energy of our engagement with them, and in order for tools to be effective they must be put to use. This sounds obvious, but often we fall into the habit of thinking we are engaging with ideas and using tools by virtue of the fact that we are reading about them, or listening to other people talk about them. In truth, using our tools is a very personal action, one we must take on behalf of ourselves. Like artists, we are each unique and no two of us will receive the same inspiration, nor will we bring it into form in the same two ways. To discover the truth of our own vision, we must take action by remembering our tools and putting them to use.


Using Yourself As A Pendulum

Learning to trust our intuition is something that can connect us with our higher selves. Sometimes it might not seem easy to do this. Our thoughts and minds often get in the way. But by accessing our innermost self, we will find that the information we receive is usually what we truly need at that moment. One of the techniques that allows us to really get in touch with our deepest font of wisdom is using our body as a pendulum. The simple act of letting our physical being lead us in a certain direction can offer us extremely deep insights and help us find the answers we seek.

Many of us may have tried using a pendulum or crystal on a chain as a dousing tool to acquire the information we need to make decisions or even find lost objects. Using our bodies puts us much more closely in tune with our being. The process of using your body as a pendulum is to ask your higher self a question and wait for your body to respond in either a forward-tilting or backward-tilting motion. The first step is to really understand how our higher self communicates with us by centering our bodies, asking ourselves the directions for “yes” and “no,” and noting which way our body moves. For a lot of people a forward motion is “yes,” and your body tilting backward is a “no” answer. It is easier to start with simple questions at first to understand how our higher self communicates with us. As we become more used to the messages we receive and how we process them, we can start asking for more specific things such as what dosage of herbs to take or which foods would best nour! ish our bodies. Using this technique in the grocery store or when shopping for vitamins and remedies can be extremely helpful.

Since we are always present in our bodies, understanding how we can use our bodies as pendulums is a tool we can use at any given moment in our lives. Letting our bodies tell us what is happening inside of us will in turn help to guide us through not just daily but also major life decisions. The more we allow our bodies to open up and share with us the connection it has with our deeper self, the better able we will be to truly access the knowledge we hold so deeply within.


A Full Embrace Excluding Nothing

Most people agree that a more peaceful world would be an ideal situation for all living creatures. However, we often seem stumped as to how to bring this ideal situation into being. If we are to have true peace in this world, each one of us must find it in ourselves first. If we don’t like ourselves, for example, we probably won’t like those around us. If we are in a constant state of inner conflict, then we will probably manifest conflict in the world. If we have fighting within our families, there can be no peace in the world. We must shine the light of inquiry on our internal struggles, because this is the only place we can really create change.

When we initiate the process of looking inside ourselves for the meaning of peace, we will begin to understand why it has always been so difficult to come by. This in itself will enable us to be compassionate toward the many people in the world who find themselves caught up in conflicts both personal and universal. We may have an experience of peace that we can call up in ourselves to remind us of what we want to create, but if we are human we will also feel the pull in the opposite direction—the desire to defend ourselves, to keep what we feel belongs to us, to protect our loved ones and our cherished ideals, and the anger we feel when threatened. This awareness is important because we cannot truly know peace until we understand the many tendencies and passions that threaten our ability to find it. Peace necessarily includes, even as it transcends, all of our primal energy, much of which has been expressed in ways that contradict peace.

Being at peace with ourselves is not about denying or rejecting any part of ourselves. On the contrary, in order to be at peace we must be willing and able to hold ourselves, in all our complexity, in a full embrace that excludes nothing. This is perhaps the most difficult part for many of us, because we want so much to disown the negative aspects of our humanity. Ironically, though, true peace begins with a willingness to take responsibility for our humanity so that we might ultimately transform it in the light of our love.


Living For Ourselves

Most of us come to a point in our lives when we question why we are doing what we are doing, and many of us come to realize that we may be living our lives in an effort to make our parents happy. This realization can dawn when we are in our 20s, our 40s, or even later, depending upon how tight a hold our family of origin has on our psyche. We may feel shocked or depressed by this information, but we can trust that it is coming to us at this time because we are ready to find out what it would mean to live our lives for ourselves, following the call of our own soul, and refusing any longer to be beholden to someone else’s expectations.

One of the most common reasons we are so tied into making our parents, or others, happy, is that we were not properly mirrored when we were children. We were not honored as individuals in our own right, with a will and purpose of our own, to be determined by our own unfolding. As a result, we learned to look outside of ourselves for approval, support, and direction rather than look within. The good news is that the part of us that was not adequately nurtured is still there, inside us, like a seed that has not yet received the sunlight and moisture it needs to open and to allow its inner contents to unfurl. It is never too late to provide ourselves with what we need to awaken this inner being.

There are many ways to create a safe container for ourselves so that we can turn within and shine the light of awareness there. We may join a support group, go to therapy, or start a practice of journaling every day for half an hour. This experience of becoming is well worth the difficult work that may be required of us to get there. In whatever process we choose, we may feel worse before we feel better, but we will ultimately find out how to live our lives for ourselves and how to make ourselves happy.

David Letterman has always been one of my favorite talk-show hosts. I found this article, and loved it.

Letterman wants to call sunset for late-night gig

Wed Sep 3, 1:27 AM PDT

David Letterman wants to stick with CBS’ “Late Show” through his contract — and maybe longer — as rival Jay Leno prepares to surrender the “Tonight” reins next year.

“The way I feel now, I would like to go beyond 2010, not much beyond, but you know, enough to go beyond. You always like to be able to excuse yourself on your own terms,” Letterman said in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine.

“If the network is happy with that, great. If they wanna make a change in 2010, you know, I’m fine with that, too,” Letterman said.

Letterman, 61, questioned why NBC is proceeding with its plan to remove Leno, who consistently tops the late-night ratings. Conan O’Brien will take over “Tonight” in June 2009, with Jimmy Fallon moving into O’Brien’s “Late Night” chair.

“Unless I’m misunderstanding something, I don’t know why, after the job Jay has done for them, why they would relinquish that,” Letterman said, adding, “I have to believe he was not happy about it.”

Letterman speculated whether “that’s actually what’s going to happen,” while acknowledging NBC might be too far down the road to retreat.

NBC is angling to keep Leno, 58, with NBC Universal but the late-night king has indicated he’s ready to jump ship. Eager NBC competitors, including other networks and syndicators, are prepared to help him make the leap.

Letterman, who called O’Brien “a very funny guy,” was asked about facing him as the new “Tonight” host. A cautious Letterman said he couldn’t predict the outcome.

“It will be weird to see Conan at 11:30, don’t you think? Which is not to say he can’t succeed, but, no, I don’t know what the competition will be like. I hope we’re able to do OK.”

In the Rolling Stone article, Letterman discusses guests including Madonna, Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern, with the most moving remarks about musician Warren Zevon, who appeared on “Late Show” shortly before his 2003 death from cancer.

Letterman recalled his “heartbreaking” meeting with Zevon in a dressing room after the show.

“Here’s a guy who had months to live and we’re making small talk. And as we’re talking, he’s taking his guitar strap and hooking it, wrapping it around, then he puts the guitar into the case and he flips the snaps on the case and says, `Here, I want you to have this, take good care of it.’ And I just started sobbing.

“He was giving me the guitar that he always used on the show. I felt like, `I can’t be in this movie, I didn’t get my lines.’ That was very tough,” Letterman said.

___

What a short, but long week.

Recovery from a three day weekend is always a little tough, but this year was a little easier. I set up a new system with my private teaching studio: if there are five Mondays and Tuesdays in the month, I only teach four. So, Monday and Tuesday were my days off for September. I did not accomplish as much as I hoped, but I did catch up on some much needed rest.

Wednesday and Thursday flew by, and though our schedules are packed in the evening, I did get to spend time with Jose, and worked with him on German and social studies. His teachers report a great deal of effort, so far.

Friday I hit the Wright Brothers’ musical pretty hard, trying to tackle one particular song that has been a struggle.

I taught for four hours, and then headed to ACTION Adoption since Jose was with the marching band at an away game at Lakota West High School, just north of Cincinnati.

I thought it would be a night in the big room with support group, but Cissie, one of the staff, asked if I would please teach an independent study to one of my favorite couples. I almost did not go to ACTION, but am so glad I did. Bill & Ann Impson are the neatest couple, and I love every minute I get to spend with these two. They are finishing up their home study, and I cannot wait until they are deeply involved in the search for children. These two just make my day.

Saturday, Jose will have band from 9:00am to 3:00pm, and I am hoping to write as much as I can. In the evening, I will take Jose to dinner, and then maybe grab a movie.

Sunday, nothing until the early evening when I teach two lessons.

Not much to report…

Living Together Differently

We tend to gravitate toward people who are the most like us, at least in the ways that make us feel comfortable. But life has its way of bringing us into contact with people who challenge us with their differences. It may be an obvious difference reflected in their outward appearance or an invisible but powerful philosophical stance, but even in our closest circle of friends and family, there are those that confront us with their different ways of experiencing and expressing life. We can choose to resist , but we can also choose to learn from them and appreciate that they too have a place in the kaleidoscope of life.

As much as we may say that we want peace and quiet and a life without struggle, the truth is that human beings are, at this time, thriving in a world of dualities and challenges. It is how we choose to approach these hurdles that determine if we sail over them, confirming our agility, or trip and end up face down in the dust. And each of us absolutely will and must stumble, and then get up, brush the dust off and carry on. This is how we learn and grow, developing depth of character and shades of understanding. In a world of dualities, we have trouble defining ourselves without something opposite, and can’t discover who we are. Without challenge, there is nothing to do and nothing to discover. That leaves us either in a state of non-being or the state of pure spirit, but as humans, we are spiritual beings experiencing the physical world in all of its startling contrast and beauty.

No matter how spiritual we are, our lives will have challenges. We will always run into people that are different that we are, but the true challenge may be in finding ways to be at peace with this process. Rather than give in to the fight or flight response that comes from our animal nature, we can find new ways to evolve together into higher more beautiful expressions of ourselves, realizing, embracing and celebrating the beauty of diversity and the strength it offers for the future.

Staying Open And Fluid
Judgment Versus Opinion

Most of us understand that when we judge someone, or someone judges us, it is a negative emotional experience. As a result, we naturally want to avoid being judgmental, but this gets confusing when we feel we have to suppress thoughts that could actually be offering us guidance. For example, we may meet someone new and suppress a negative feeling about them, thinking that we don’t want to fall into the trap of being judgmental. Later, though, it may turn out that paying attention to that thought could have helped us take care of ourselves or someone else.

It is important to learn to distinguish inner guidance, and having an opinion, from judgment, otherwise we run the risk of not listening to our intuition and not allowing ourselves to form opinions. Inner guidance and opinions both help us to interact more intelligently in the world, so we don’t want to throw them out in an effort to avoid being judgmental. Our intuition usually makes itself known to us in a flash, and often has a physical component—a flutter in our stomachs, sweaty palms, or a chill. When we use this information to help us navigate a situation, we always benefit. Similarly, having an opinion about a person or an idea allows us to converse about it in a focused way with intention. Listening to our intuition and forming opinions are both positive outcomes of our ability to interpret the information that comes our way.

When we make a judgment, on the other hand, we attempt to have a final say on whether someone or something is inherently good or bad. Judgments close us down instead of opening us up; opinions have a lighter quality and are amenable to change. Once a judgment has been made, there is no more conversation or consideration, whereas opinions invite further debate. Intuition guides us from moment to moment, but, unlike judgment, never makes a final decree. In other words, it is only healthy to be open to the information we receive and to allow ourselves to process that information. As long as we stay open and fluid, we can trust that we have not fallen prey to the trap of judgment.


Healing What Hurts

Many of us are going through our lives aware of a well of pain underlying our daily awareness that we’ve felt for so long we aren’t even sure where it comes from. It almost seems as if it’s part of who we are, or the way we see the world, but it’s important to realize that this pain is something that needs to be acknowledged and processed. The longer we sit on it, the harder it is to work through, and the more likely it is that we will be forced to acknowledge it as it makes itself known to us in ways we can’t predict. Rather than waiting for this to happen, we can empower ourselves by identifying the pain and resolving to take action toward healing it.

The very thought of this brings up feelings of resistance in most of us, especially if, on the surface, our lives seem to be in order. It’s difficult to dig up the past and go into it unless we are being seriously inconvenienced by the hurt. The thing is, when we are carrying the burden of our unprocessed pain, sooner or later, it will inconvenience us. If we can be brave and proactive, we can save ourselves a lot of future suffering and free up the energy that is tied up in keeping the pain down.

There are many ways to do this, but the first step is to recognize the pain and honor it by moving our awareness into it. In this process, even if it’s just five minutes during meditation, we will begin to have a sense of what the pain is made of. It might be fear of abandonment, childhood abuse, anger at being mistreated, or some other long held wound. As we sit with the pain, we will also have a sense of whether we can deal with it by ourselves, or not. It may be time to work with a counselor, or form a healing circle with close friends. Whatever path you choose, resolve to go deep into the pain, so that you can release it fully, and set yourself free. Remember, it is never too late in life to heal what hurts, and there is never a better time than now.


Enlightenment At Home

Many spiritual seekers feel called to far-flung places across the globe in the interest of pursuing the path of their enlightenment. This may indeed be the right course of action for certain people, but it is by no means necessary to attaining an enlightened consciousness. Enlightenment can take root anywhere on earth, as long as the seeker is an open and ready vessel for higher consciousness. All we need is a powerful intention, and a willingness to do the work necessary to moving forward on our path.

In terms of spiritual practice, at this moment, there are more tools available to more people than at any other time in history. We have access to so much wisdom through the vehicles of books, magazines, the Internet, television, and film. In addition, the time-honored practice of meditation is free, and sitting quietly everyday, listening to the universe, is a great way to start the journey within. There is further inspiration in the fact that the greatest teachers we have are our own life experiences, and they come to us every day with new lessons and new opportunities to learn. If we look at the people around us, we may realize that we have a spiritual community already intact, and if we don’t, we can find one, if not in our own neighborhood, then on-line.

Meanwhile, if we feel called to travel in search of teachers and experiences, then by all means, we should. But if we can’t go to India, or Burma, or Indonesia, or if we don’t have the desire, this is not an obstacle in terms of our spiritual development. In fact, we may simply be aware that our time and energy is best spent in our own homes, with our meditation practice and all the complications and joys of our own lives. We can confidently stay in one place, knowing that everything that we need to attain enlightenment is always available right where we are.


Missing Our Old Habits

Whenever we make the effort to free ourselves of an addiction or a habit we no longer need, we are often surprised to find ourselves missing the old pattern as we would a familiar friend. This sounds counterintuitive, because we think we should instinctively gravitate toward that which is good for us. And yet, it makes a lot of sense when you consider that we humans are creatures of habit. This is why we gravitate to people and places—and patterns of behavior–that make us feel comfortable. Therefore, many of the habits we form are not conscious and are based instead on learned behavior from role models who were not always making the healthiest decisions.

Most addictions begin as a way of avoiding feelings that are extremely uncomfortable, so it makes sense that stopping the addiction means, for a time, a fair amount of discomfort. The same, of course, is true of habits that we have developed over time that we are ready to release. Just knowing that this is hard, and having compassion for ourselves as we work through this process, can help us to stay the course when we feel the urge to backtrack. It’s also helpful to remember that in time we will establish new, healthier patterns, and the yearning for the old ones will disappear. Eventually, we will instinctively reach for things that are good for us, and the longing for positive change may form the basis of a new habit.

The only way to get to this new place is to endure a time of difficulty, which is a challenge we can confidently handle, if we remember that it will lead to the change we seek in our lives. Our bodies, hearts, and minds always need time to adjust to a new way of doing things, but they will adapt, and even become our allies, if we remain true to our vision of a new way.

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